On August 3rd, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) announced that Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) would challenge the AEW World Champion, Jon Moxley, at AEW All Out. MJF was, at the time, ranked 1st in the Men’s Rankings and had yet to be pinned or submitted in AEW.
Thanks to the hype generated from a heated promo about the importance of being champion, MJF is undoubtedly the biggest villain in AEW going up against the respected Moxley. With Moxley having been champion for 160+ days already, the time seems primed for MJF to become champion, and below are three reasons why.
The Story of Jon Moxley’s Title Reign
Moxley originally won the AEW Championship from the inaugural champion Chris Jericho earlier this year at AEW Revolution. The decision to crown Moxley as champion was perfectly timed, as Moxley was then the hottest act in wrestling. Seemingly reborn and revitalised following his departure from WWE, Moxley has demonstrated raw promos and an almost gnarly persona, battling through pain and violence to victory. The unprecedented global pandemic has unfortunately impacted on his overall title reign, but he has continued to represent the brand proudly.
However, it’s his title defences in particular that are of interest, as there is a connection between them. Including the recent title defence on Dynamite against Darby Allin, Moxley has made four title defences in total, and the first three helped craft a story in Moxley’s reign. The first title defence was against Jericho’s stablemate Jake Hager, who at the time not only was undefeated in five matches in AEW, but also in Mixed Martial-Arts. This legitimacy made Hager a dangerous title threat to Moxley’s reign.
Despite Hager’s size and power advantage, Moxley triumphed after half an hour in a No Holds Barred Empty Arena Match. Utilising his better stamina and determination, Moxley handed Hager his first loss, ending his feud with The Inner Circle. Moxley moved on and ended up battling ‘The Exalted One’, Mr Brodie Lee of The Dark Order, after Lee stole Moxley’s championship. Coincidentally, Lee was also undefeated in five matches prior to this match.
In Lee’s most impressive outing at the time, Moxley would again retain the championship at AEW Double Or Nothing. In an act very suiting of his willingness to put his own body on the line, Moxley would Paradigm Shift Lee through the ramp. Despite Lee’s attempt to battle on, Moxley choked out the challenger and gained the victory. Another undefeated opponent, another victory for Moxley, and at the same event where his next opponent would be revealed.
Following Brian Cage’s victory in the Casino Ladder, he was named the Number 1 Contender, and prepared for the match by embarking on an undefeated streak, numbering six victories in total. In the title match at Fight For The Fallen, Moxley again demonstrated his fearlessness in a battle against the powerful Cage. It required Cage’s manager Taz to throw a towel in to save Cage from irreparable damage from a Moxley submission.
As has become obvious, the majority of Moxley’s title reign has consisted of matches against undefeated wrestlers and having to use his smarts to survive with the championship. Coupled with his own ongoing undefeated streak, currently at 14-0 this year, whoever defeats Moxley will be readymade due to how strongly he has been booked. It certainly isn’t coincidental that he will now face the only other undefeated wrestler this year, MJF.
Because He’s Better Than You
Even before AEW came to fruition, The Elite seemed to have plans for MJF as a talent, handpicking him for the opening match at All In, where he lost to Matt Cross. Since his debut, MJF has appeared in several integral matches and moments, beginning with the Double Or Nothing Battle Royal and his partnership with Cody. This culminated in a huge victory over Cody at AEW Revolution and followed up with a hugely impressive match against Jungle Boy AEW’s second Double Or Nothing.
MJF is one of the few heels in wrestling currently excelling at making people detest him. His arrogance and dismissive attitudes towards others, epitomised by his catchphrase “I’m better than you, and you know it”, makes him aggravating to listen to. This is intensified with his frustrating ability to continue winning matches, whether through help (his bodyguard Wardlow), cheating (his Diamond Ring) or talent.
With his ability to generate heat and the range of possible opponents who could challenge him, such as current rival Jungle Boy, Wardlow, or maybe the man who he has never beaten, Adam Page, the opportunities are endless, especially as MJF could end Moxley’s own undefeated streak in an ironic twist to Moxley’s own title reign.
The Homegrown Factor
Possibly the most important factor is one that has come up several times, and that’s the concept of homegrown champions. The decision to have Chris Jericho as the inaugural AEW Champion was an intelligent choice due to him helping instantly legitimize the championship. However, even at the time, there were discussions about future champions, with a focus on younger stars. Instead, the second champion was Moxley, in an understandable decision that capitalised on Moxley’s popularity.
The connection between the two champions is the fact they came to prominence due to their work in WWE and specifically, becoming WWE Champion. This has led to some irrational comparisons to TNA’s habit of hotshotting former WWE wrestlers to their main championships and is an issue that AEW would be clever to pre-empt. Even the recent signing of Eddie Kingston was followed by suggestions he should become the next AEW Champion because he’s never been affiliated with WWE.
If AEW wants to cement its reputation as an alternative, there are few better methods than crowning their own homegrown stars as AEW Champions. You only have to see the impact of when Shane Douglas became ECW Champion, or when AJ Styles represented TNA, to understand the importance of a homegrown star representing their company. While there are undoubtedly some excellent future AEW Champions in Jungle Boy, Darby Allin, Adam Page, PAC, and even Kenny Omega, there is nobody better primed for the position than MJF. A top heel as AEW Champion also connects better to the classic booking of NWA during the late 1980s, an aspect AEW seems inspired by.
Between his personality, his ability to grab attention, his solid in-ring work, excellent potential, and the fact that he is a true AEW original, MJF is perfectly set to become AEW Champion. Without doubt, there is nobody better, and we all know it.
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